Targa Adelaide – Making it to the end of a challenging day one

‘Worst weather in recent memory’. ’95 percent chance of rain’. ‘Hail likely’. These were the warnings given for day 1 of Targa Adelaide and I’m very proud to report that, despite the ominous looking photo above, Guy Standen and myself in the trusty Fiat 124 Coupe have made it to the end of the most challenging day of rallying I can remember being involved in.  Read on for a quick summary of the event so far for team Fiat 529 Rally.

Follow Fiat 529 Rally on Facebook.

Targa Adelaide started last night (Wednesday) with the simply excellent TargaFest Prologue around the Wayville showgrounds. An unprecedented 23,000 motorsport fans packed the showgrounds to see the event, with many even climbing on the roofs of buildings and pavilions to get a look at the action.

It wasn’t just a rally prologue, there were some stunning cars on display as well and the atmosphere was electric. The TargaFest was so big that it deserves its own post – look for it soon.

Day One started at the Goyder Pavilion service park in good spirits. The man you see here playing with a balloon is Tony Quinn, who currently sits second outright in his R35 GTR.

TS01 Medlow was dry, but the rain soon hit with vengeance at the start of TS02 Upper Hermitage. Stage conditions were exciting to say the least, varying from slippery to almost undriveable from corner to corner. But at least we had a dry and warm place to sit; I really felt for the poor officials out on the road who were attempting to run a rally stage in sideways rain. If any officials are reading this, you did an absolutely top job and you deserve all the thanks you get – thank you for letting us play.

Other than the odd slide we had a trouble free run in the morning stages, although we found the 124 to be challenging to drive in the wet. It was nice and controllable when it did begin to slide, but the slightest of steering or throttle inputs had a magnified effect, and even just breathing on the throttle in the wrong place would send the back hanging out. I have absolutely no idea how the guys in the 700hp V8’s were coping.

It’s interesting to see how technology infiltrates the field, and 2012 is definitely the year of the iPad. At the lunch break it seems everyone was breaking them out to check results, including Jason White in the Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale. He’s currently leading the event outright.

When the weather decides to get nasty, it does so with a speed envied by most competitors. One moment it’s relatively dry…

… and less than a minute later poor Damo needs to break out his masculine brolly to enjoy a smoke!

Speaking of Damo, he and his co-driver Glen Dean put in a ridiculous effort over the past few weeks to get Glen’s Escort ready for the event. They only started building the car a few weeks ago, putting the call out on Facebook for all hands on deck. They only got the car finished on Tuesday, and even made scruitineering with a whole hour to spare!

We followed them down TS08 Castambul, which was treacherous to say the least. This photo was taken just before we started the stage, and it was actually hailing. The stage was very slippy, and there was even several metres of standing water lining the apex of several corners. It was borderline diabolical.

As we got to the fast, open part of Gorge road we had a bit of a moment at 100km/h around a 7 Left on Crest. We hit 4th gear on exit, and when Guy breathed on the throttle it was the perfect storm of white line, unloaded suspension from the crest and greasy road. The back snapped out and Guy had it held…

… but then it flicked back the other way. He couldn’t even really play with the throttle as it was so greasy that the wheels would have just spun and provided no traction.

 We could just see the tank slapper getting bigger and bigger until it ended in a huge accident…

… so Guy made the snap decision to spin the car in order to stop as soon as possible in a semi controlled way. It turned out to be the best decision to make. The ironic part about this screenshot here is that we’re pointed at an 80 sign, and if you look at the GPS speed readout closely on the dash, we’re doing 82km/h sideways at this point. So there you have it – don’t speed, kids.

We lightly brushed the rock wall with the right rear guard on the way around, but it was so gentle that we didn’t even feel it. I like in this shot how Guy is looking hard left, in the direction of travel, and I’ve just got my head down! Show’s you who the natural driver is.

And after doing a full 360deg downhill spin we ended up facing the right way. “Are you okay mate?” said Guy. “Yep!”. He selected first gear straight away, and we drove off. “10 Left into 7 Right….” All in all we probably only lost about 5 seconds, and didn’t think about it until we crossed the finish line some eight minutes later. “That was a little close, mate…”

But we needn’t feel so bad. Around 5 cars that I know of, including Kevin Weeks in his Gallardo Superleggera, had incidents on Castambul and the stage was littered with coloured paint down armco’s and rock walls for its entire length indicating many more had issues. Matt Sims’ rally ended 2 corners before our spin:


At the end of the day it was off to service at Eurosport Automotive in Kent Town. Peter and the guys prepare the 124, and have kindly made their workshop available for us.

Damage was minor and cosmetic, and luckily we didn’t even touch the taillight which is quite hard to find!

The service crew patiently let me have a crack at hammering out the dent…

… although Carl Seaver was far better at it!

We managed to find an old tin of paint left over from when the car was painted, and Carl carefully brushed it on. We even went to the trouble of buying a brand new brush to minimise brush strokes!

And hey presto! Just like new!

After a refuel, the car is tucked up at Wayville and ready for whatever tomorrow throws at us. Apparently the weather is meant to ease up, but it’s now 11pm and raining harder than ever, so I’m not so sure…

We’re currently sitting 50th outright and 9th in Late Classic Handicap. Follow Fiat 529 Rally on Facebook.

Results to the end of day 1:

1. Jason White / John White, Lamborghini Gallardo, 7m31s
2. Tony Quinn / Naomi Tillett, Nissan GT-R, +1m16s
3. Peter Rullo / Simon Iseppi, Nissan GT-R, +1m54s
4. Matt Selley / Hamish McKendrick, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +1m57s
5. Steve Glenney / Bernie Webb, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +2m52s

1. Barry Faux / Therezia Mihajlovic, Mazda RX7, 12m04s
2. Roger Paterson / Paul Whatnell, Porsche 911 RS, +23s
3. Nick Streckeisen / Mike Dale, Porsche 944 Turbo, +25s
4. Tolley Challis / Greg Flood, Porsche 911 Carrera RS, +29s
5. Craig Haysman / Neil Branum, Triumph TR7 V8, +52s

1. Rob Black / Vivek Ponnusamy, Porsche 911 S, 12m05s
2. Bill Brentzell / Karien Heimsohn, Shelby GT350, +3s
3. Donn Todd / Dean Tighe, Ford Capri Perana, +8s
4. Jack Waldron / Vin Gregory, Fiat Abarth 750, +43s
5. Richard Woodward / Neil Gibson, Holden Monaro GTS, +59s

1. Barry Faux / Therezia Mihajlovic, Mazda RX7, 10m25s
2. Nick Streckeisen / Mike Dale, Porsche 944 Turbo, +9s
3. Roger Paterson / Paul Whatnell, Porsche 911 RS, +40s
4. Tolley Challis / Greg Flood, Porsche 911 Carrera RS, +1m08s
5. Bruce Power / Ray Baker, Mazda RX7, +1m15s

1. Tim Possingham / Ben Scott, Nissan Skyline GT-R, 10m34s
2. Andrew Booker / Chris Edmonson, Nissan 180 SX, +13s
3. Adam Plate / Patrick Chan, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII, +1m32s
4. Adam Kaplan / David Kaplan, Holden Commodore HSV, +2m45s
5. Andre Lukasz / Adam Tillett, Nissan 200 SX, +3m03s

1. Mark Rundle / Steve Fisher, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII, 12m52s
2. Greg Burrowes / Rhonda Burrowes, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, +19s
3. Michael Flood / Nathan Green, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, +46s
4. Allan Mair / Michelle Mair, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +4m07s

1. Glyn Crimp / Paul van der Mey, Ford Focus RS, 14m13s

1. Neill Ford / Nathalie Ford, Chevrolet Corvette Z06, 14m23s

1. John Goodall / Graham Palich, 2009 Porsche Cayman, 77 points
2. Richard Davis / Bill Best, 2008 HSV W427, 128 points
3. John Amos / Cintra Amos, 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, 132 points




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